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UN child injury conference addresses one million preventable deaths

One million children die of preventable injuries every year in the developing world, eclipsing deaths from infectious diseases, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said ahead of a conference in Bangkok in October on the issue. Public health experts and academics specialising in the field of child injury attended the three day meeting sponsored by UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control. “Injury is a major cause of child death and disability today, but this is a phenomenon that can be prevented”, said Pete Peterson, formerly the first US ambassador to Vietnam. Peterson, founder of The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC) which sprang from a campaign that began in Vietnam, said there was a lack of data, prevention programs, or research on injury in most developing countries. TASC aimed to serve as “a global catalyst to address and promulgate the issue of injury as the major killer of children and its detrimental impact on the public health systems of developing countries”, he said. UNICEF said in a statement that of every 100 000 children born in developing countries, 1000 will die from injuries before the age of 15. “There is growing evidence that preventable injuries—not infectious diseases—are the biggest killer of children in the developing world today”, it said. The organisation said the conference aimed to develop a regional institutional alliance for child injury prevention, and eventually create a base of scientific evidence to promote prevention programs (contributed by Ian Scott).

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